Verlander's No-Hitter


Hey, did we all forget what happened in Major-League Baseball last year on Mother's Day?

It was one of MLB's finest hours when Oakland A's lefthander Dallas Braden tossed a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays -- okay, so we all haven't heard all that much from Braden since -- but it's rather amazing how this year's Mother's Day weekend produced another no-hitter (and nearly another perfect game) as Detroit Tigers RHP Justin Verlander stole the headline with his no-no gem North of the Border in last Saturday's 9-0 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Verlander -- who already owned a previous no-hitter and who pitched 7.1 innings of perfect ball before throwing a 3-2 ball to Toronto's J.P. Arencibia -- thus became the second American League Central Division pitcher to toss a no-hitter in the span of five days (remember Minnesota LHP Francisco Liriano?) and thus lends additional credence to the belief that this 2011 season could be chock-filled with no-hitters.

Last year there were six no-hitters thrown -- the role call included Philadelphia Phillies RHP Roy Halladay (twice), then-Tampa Bay righty Matt Garza, than-Arizona RHP Edwin Jackson, Colorado righty Ubaldo Jimenez and the aforementioned Braden -- and everyone figured the 'steroid era'was totally dead with less pop in team offenses but now here's Verlander firing a 12-strikeout no-hitter against a Toronto lineup that can 'rake'and so hats off to the Tigers' stud righty and -- in case you're wondering -- this probably won't be the last hint of a no-no the remainder of the season.

Ask us right here and right now and we'll nominate Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw and Oakland A's righty Trevor Cahill as folks more than capable of throwing a no-hitter this season ... hey, you know we'll pat ourselves on the back if/when we're right!

And now hear this ...

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Here's the latest NBA Playoff Pointspread Chart with listing of just the eight teams that are playing -- or had played -- in conference semifinal action:

(Thru games of Sunday, May 8th)

Dallas 10-0
Memphis 7-1-1
Atlanta 7-3
Miami 4-4
Chicago 4-5
Boston 3-4
Oklahoma City 3-4-1
LA Lakers 3-7

Call it simply amazing that the Dallas Mavericks are 10-and-oh ATS (against the spread) through the course of two playoff series and let's not ignore the fact that the Western Conference's #8 playoff seed -- the Memphis Grizzlies -- are a sizzling 7-1-1 versus the vig or that the Atlanta Hawks have notched spread wins in seven of their 10 games this post-season.

Hey, if you wagered $100 per-play on these three teams than right now you're sitting pretty with a tidy sum profit of $1,960 -- not bad when you consider that at the very start of the NBA Playoffs you may have been so inclined to have such plays on the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and the Orlando Magic ... remember them?

One last thing on the Lakers -- who pulled one of the great quit jobs in Sunday's 122-86 Game #4 loss in Dallas: Maybe the end of the Phil Jackson Era didn't have to taste so bad for the Lakers but that's what happens when low-character guys (see Ron Artest) place their personal stamps on a series and that Game #2 mugging of Mavs point guard J.J. Berea was off-the-charts awful and it really put the Lakers in a major quandary for the rest of the series. Can you ever imagine two-time defending league champions getting outscored by 20 points in a single quarter as happened in the second quarter of Sunday's tilt? Ugh!

Now, let's check out what's ahead in NBA Playoff action early in this week (note in our charts that home teams are listed in CAPS):

On Monday, it's ...

MIAMI at BOSTON -- Heat leads series 2-1

Just when you might have thought it safe to believe the Boston Celtics were headed to the old folks home came last Saturday's electric 97-81 win in Game #3 but the biggest story here wasn't necessarily the veteran C's but rather the Heat combo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade who between them netted just 14-of-35 shots from the field ... now why is it that King James seems to play his worst ball in Beantown?
No question that James -- who bagged just 6-of-16 field goals in Game #3 -- has to step it up but what about the last of the 'Big Three'as Chris Bosh registered only one field goal and 6 points and later claimed 'nerves'were a factor ... say what?

If you're looking for a specific Game #4 strategy here than keep an eye peeled on how Boston moves the ball here: Note the Celtics totaled 27 assists on their 37 made FGs last Saturday night and now the home folks are keeping fingers crossed that PG Rajon Rondo (game-high 11 assists) is green-lighted for play here after suffering a dislocated elbow and stiff back in his 35 on-the-job minutes last weekend.

5-1 MIAMI - 4.5 MIAMI 99-90
5-3 MIAMI - 5 MIAMI 102-91
5-7 BOSTON - 3 BOSTON 97-81

OKLAHOMA CITY at MEMPHIS -- Grizzlies lead series 2-1

Guess you can call this Game #4 tilt 'gut-check time'for the fourth-seeded Okie City Thunder!
No doubt that last Saturday's uber-devastating 101-93 overtime loss in Memphis -- remember that the Thunder sported a 16-point lead and Oklahoma City was outscored 38-17 in the fourth quarter and overtime -- really knocked Scott Brooks' club back on its collective kister -- but things could change dramatically here if Kevin Durant and mates can 'fly straight'here after teaming up for 34-of-93 FGs in Game #3 (that's less than 37 percent). Durant -- who needed 24 FGs to score a modest 22 points last Saturday -- didn't convert the late-in-regulation jumper and may have some doubts in mind here with defensive stopper Shane Battier sure to get in the lock-down position.

The Grizzlies -- who attempted 44 free throws in that Game #3 comeback -- may want to zero in more from the charity stripe after netting just 30 of 'em and wouldn't it be something if the likes of Marc Gasol and Tony Allen cost Memphis this game because of foul-line woes (they missed four FTs apiece in Game #3)?

5-1 OKLA CITY - 7 Memphis 114-101
5-3 OKLA CITY - 6.5 OKLA CITY 111-102
5-7 MEMPHIS - 2.5 MEMPHIS 101-93(ot)

On Tuesday, it's ...

ATLANTA at CHICAGO -- Series tied 2-2

No 'Josh-in'... The Atlanta Hawks evened up this best-of-seven series thanks mainly to an other-worldly game by forward Josh Smith who filled up the Sunday night stat sheet to the tune of 23 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists and didn't Atlanta head coach Larry Drew just love the fact that his club outscored the Bulls in the 'points in the paint'category 56-to-40?

Atlanta's seemingly easy way of getting Smith -- among others -- open either in the three-second lane or just outside of it had Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau (a defensive wizards) fuming as did an 'inadvertent whistle'by veteran official Bennett Salvatore who once-upon-a-time blew the Dallas-Miami championship round with a bum call.

No doubt the Bulls have to find a way to relieve the pressure on MVP Derrick Rose who nailed just 12-of-32 FGs in Game #4 but why can't the Eastern Conference regular-season champs hit a triple these days when it matters (see 3-of-16 treys in Game #4 including reserve Kyle Korver's rotten 0-for-5 trifecta attempts)?

5-2 CHICAGO - 9 Atlanta 103-95
5-4 CHICAGO - 8.5 CHICAGO 86-73
5-6 Chicago - 2.5 Chicago 99-82
5-8 Chicago - 3.5 ATLANTA 100-88

NOTE: Next catch our mid-week edition of Jim Sez as we'll have more NBA Playoff coverage plus MLB News & Notes.



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